Berlusconi: Dear Voters, I’ll Rebate Taxes

By Tara MacIsaac On February 20, 2013 @ 1:09 pm In Europe | No Comments

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives at the EU Headquarters for a European People's Party (EPP) enlarged summit in Brussels on Dec. 13, 2012. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives at the EU Headquarters for a European People's Party (EPP) enlarged summit in Brussels on Dec. 13, 2012. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

A letter sent by Silvio Berlusconi to the Italian voters this week promised a tax rebate if he is elected as Prime Minister during the two-day election on Feb. 24–25.

The promise is to rebate a levy that has already been collected for 0.4 percent of the property value of home owners‘ primary residences, according to the BBC.

Berlusconi’s official-looking letter, labeled “Important notice: reimbursement of IMU 2012,” was called a “scam” by Pier Luigi Bersani, the Democratic Party candidate who was ahead of Berlusconi in the last published poll on Feb. 8, according to BBC. 

Berlusconi, convicted of tax fraud in October 2012, may have counter-intuitively gained clout with some voters—namely, tax evaders. 

Economics professor Massimo Bordignon at the University of the Sacred Heart in Milan told the Global Post that tax evaders comprise an influential part of the Italian electorate. Small-business owners and entrepreneurs that evade taxes are likely among Berlusconi’s supporters, Bordignon told the Post. 

Though Bersani was ahead by 5–6 points in the last poll, he lacks some of Berlusconi’s media flare. Berlusconi had already closed a large portion of the gap between his own ratings and Bersani’s in previous polls. 

The BBC quotes Bersani: “If I’d crossed paths with Berlusconi after the letter was sent, I’d have told him he’s a cheat.”

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